lug downhaul on Peapod

Hello everybody!  I have logged a few short voyages on my Peapod and was surpised to find how steep the learing curve of a lug rigged sail vs what I was used to (Lateeen on a Sunfish.)  After some research I have found the biggest thing is proper tension on downhaul.  Of course on a stock sunfish there is no downhaul, and there is a gooseneck, while the opposite is true of the Peapod.  I found raising and dowsing the sail to be en exercise in lubberly-ness compared to what I had anticipated.  I raised the halyard at dock, only to have the boom fly away with downhaul line dangling out of reach like a kite tail while I awkardly tested the limits of the Peapod stability frantically grasping for it.  once I got it, it was only slightly less awkard wrestling it onto the cleat.   Later, when I doused the sail and tried rowing, I have not had a single incident of comical apparent attemts to either hit myself on the head or cast the whole rig into the ocean, or both.  Now, at least one of these days I can chalk up to inadvertently failing to rig the parrel on the halyard on game day.  Talk about a wild kite. 

So I did a bit of reasearch ( ) and it seems that perhaps first order of business is possibly start with a simple lashing of the boom to the mast, a la a rope version of my old firend the gooseneck on the Sunfish.   It seems simple, cheap and would allow me to raise my sail without having to losely tie off downhaul before I really tie off downhaul, and avoid flyaway booms and boom hitting mast in big thunks as I get situated.  Although I have yet to try it, I am piuzzled why it is not suggested as stock idea for the peapod.  I realize they don't want the rigging to be complicated off the bat, but when I was rigging, I thought "No gooseneck?  Huh.  I guess they know what they are doing. " Now I am not so sure.  one more bit of rope  a loose lashing and some clove hitches seem worth it to make raising and lowering the sail less of a side show.

Which brings me to the second point.  It appears (although I have not tested it myself) that more force than you might expect is better for the downhaul.  I had been striving for "no banging" is good enough, but apparently even more tension is better, especially for travelling to windward.   Which brings me to the second question.   Who is using blocks for mechanical advantage on their downhauls?  I am mid 50's male and about average shape able-bodied variety.  I imagine I can do without mechanical advantage, but maybe it would be nice, one less thing as you wrestle with the boat on initial setup. 

Also, like many others, I found the hole suggested for the spar a bit small for both the sail and halyard, so I ran two smaller sized lines together and put a stainless caribiner on that and clipped the halyard to that.  That way, when rigging at the dock and I dropped the mast it in a way that isn't conducive to a proper parrel I can simply unlip and re-thread.  A very worthwhile upgrade in my opinion. 

And lastly, due to all my comical dousing sail routines, I have been made aware of lazy jacks.   I had never heard of them before but I am intrugued if they let me dowse sail in a more "ruley" fashion.  although the idea of rigging yet more lines sounds like possibly more complication than such a small boat needs.   

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RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

Hello Nate,

You are correct that the lug takes a little getting used to. My comments are going to echo what I said in that post from two years ago. 

I would strongly recommend that you read through the numerous articles on Mik Storer's web sight.  He is a huge advocate for the rig and possibly the leading expert.  Go here:

It is true that the key to good windward performance with a lug is strong luff tension.  Other rigs like the lateen rig have a rigid spar that holds the luff centered even with low luff tension.  Not so on a lug rig, so the only thing that keeps the luff from sagging to leeward is luff tension, which is created with the downhaul.  In light air, you want the luff tight, in medium air very tight and and as much as you get get in heavy air.  

I run a 8:1 vanghaul and a bleater on my GIS.  The combination allows full control of both luff and leach tension.  The bleater is rigged such that it is loose when the vanghaul is released.  It effectively holds the boom in the boat when the sail is going up or down.  I run the vanghaul line aft so I can control it from the back of the boat.  I ease it a bit going downwind then crank it going back upwind. 

I would recommend adding some mechanical advantage even if you decide to stay with a regular dowbhaul.  2:1 would be an improvement but 4:1 would be better.

For me, the key to keeping the sail and rig in the boat when raising and lowering is to have the boat steady with the bow about 20-30 degrees off the wind.  The mizzen makes this easy.

Here is the setup on my Goat.  The line on the right is the main hailyard running aft.  The line on the left is the vanghaul with 8:1 also running aft.  I can vary the ratio of luff/leach tension by sliding the block that is lashed to the boom forward or back.  Forward makes it more of a downhaul, aft makes it more of a boom vang.  The bleater is the two lines running horizontal around the mast.  It keeps the boom from moving forward when the vanghaul is tensioned.  When the vanghaul is loose, it loosely holds the boom to the mast when raining and lowering the sail.

Here is the look from the other side.  Honestly, the 8:1 vanghaul is over kill.  I may go to 4:1 just to make the boat easier to rig.  The line in fron of the mast is just there to hold the mast securely in the mast step when the sail is down.


RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

   Though they are sailing different boats, check out     for all you ever wanted to know about contemporary lug rigs.  As far as using blocks on your downhaul, yes, I do. You would be surprised at how much you need to tighten the downhaul, and the blocks make it much easier.  


RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

Amother sailor with blocks on the downhaul here.

This ones the Faering Cruiser wth 123 sq ft sail area.


RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

I achieved ~ 2:1 purchase on my Passagemaker balanced lug by seizing a stainless steel thimble into a loop of 1/8" low stretch line which is lashed to the underside of the lower yard (some would call that the "boom") to serve as the downhaul attachment, no holes in spar or screwed on fittings needed.  My downhaul line is passed up through this thimble and back down to the cleat on the mast (secured with bowline or stopper knot through the middle of the cleat) to form a simple 2:1 purchase.  Works better if arranged so that the fall can be drawn under the cleat in a rearward direction when setting it up.  This has proved to be enough tension for this little sail set well, and can be adjusted to suit suit the wind conditions.

I've so far found that the main trick to keep the lugsail from turning into a mad kite from hell when hoisting or lowering is to work quickly.  Fully hoisted, the sail is pretty docile.

Before hoisting, I set up the downhaul with a bit more slack than it'll want, then hoist the upper yard smartly to quickly get some tension on the sail between the upper and lower yards.  I'll then snug up the downhaul as needed, and we're on our merry way.

To lower the sail, I find it works best to ease off the halyard a bit with one hand while grasping the lower yard with the other to keep it in the boat.  Ease off a bit more, get the after end of the lower yard down inside the gunnel, and then reach up and grab a handful of sail to start pulling it down into the boat, keeping a little tension on the halyard as you do.

The best way to practice all this is with the boat sitting on a piece of indoor/outdoor carpet on the ground.

As always, "Different ships, different long splices."  <;-)


RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

once it stops raining here I will initailly try a loose lashing of lower spar to prevent the flyaway problem while I consider my options for what kind of mechanical advantage and whether I want to run it back to helm position.  All very useful tips.  I had not even considered running halyard and downhaul further back and am intrigued with that idea.    

RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

   Ok I did some quick and dirty re-rigging and found out some stuff.  I did a "bleater and vanghaul" with what I had available and found out a few things.  When I swing my sail as if I was on a starboard tack, everything is fine.  But when I swing it over as if I was on a port tack I sense all sorts of binding and stiffness.  Not sure exactly the issue, but part of it is my mast is squarish on the Peapod and wrapping around thith the boom/spar off to starboard the bleater and the vanghaul seem not to like it.  (having no additional tackle I had vangaul attached to mast cleat similar to gramps suggestion.

Then I rigged a very loose lashing, more of a big loop around the mast, clove hitched to the spar on either side.  I made it loose so when dousing the sail I can lower the spar/boom down past the cleats without it hanging up on anything.  It should retain the lower spar from flyaway kite or the urge to move massively forward when it was previosly untethered. 

Once I solve that, I will look into mechanical advantage.  For now I will resort to pushing down on the spar/boom with one hand and tensioning it to the cleat with the other.  There is not really any room between boom and current cleat location for any tackle.  So If I do tackle I probably will rig it to the deck.  But I want to go sailing a few times and think about things first.

I took some pictures but I have yet to go through the multi step process where I can save them somewhwere where it is hostable so I can share.  Bravo for those who have, the photos are invaluable to figuring this all out. 

RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

   I sail a Northeaster Dory, but I endorse what Gramps said. I keep my sail in the boat all the time, even when rowing. One never knows when the wind will come up around here. Thus, I have a short line attaching the downhaul to its cleat with a figure 8 knot at the end, keeping it permanently attached. That solves the "kite" problem (at least on the lower end). To keep things from going kitty-wampus up top, I point up into the wind with a bit of rowing speed and then work fast to get my sail hauled to the very top and tied off.

I don't see the need for mechanical advantage on the downhaul. Instead, I stand up and lean all my weight onto the boom with one hand as I tighten the downhaul with the other. I like to keep things simple.

RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

As far as the lazy jacks part of the question is concerned, I think that they make a massive difference in keeping the sail, yard and boom under control on the Faering Cruiser.

With the downhaul and sheet tight to keep the boom from flying away I can raise and lower the sail between the lazy jacks. They have their own cleat so that the tension can be adjusted from tight during sail raising/lowering operations to loose while actually sailing. A parrel keeps the yard from flying away.

This is how I stow my sail while rowing. To raise it, I stow the sliding seat in either the cabin or forward hatch (whichever is more convenient) and secure the oars, then remove the sail lashings, move the sheet purchase block to the sailing position (unsnap and re-snap to a new padeye), adjust the downhaul and raise the sail with the halyard. A little fiddling with the sheet and downhaul, then loosen the lazy jacks and it's a sailboat again - all without a loose boom, yard or sail. i wish I could take credit for all this, but the rigging was all John Harris's idea.

Another thing to keep in mind is that size matters. Smaller sails don't need all the gadgets that larger sails do to stay under control. That's why, I suspect, Birch2 doesn't feel the need for mechanical advantage on his 68 sq ft sail and I think that it's a necessity on my 125 sq ft sail.


RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

Skerry Downhaul

I wound up doing a downhaul for my skerry.  Partly because I did the halyard per manual, through a hole in the masthead, and while it's pretty smooth, getting full tension isn't easy particularly out on the water.  So, I reused the cleat from the original simple downhaul, scrounged up a bullet block and a block w/ becket.  The bullet block is just tied through the cleat base.  It gives me a 3 part haul which makes that easier.  The cleat should be lower because with a full hoist, I need to just about two-block the downhaul to get the right luff tension for a breeze.  If I was really good, I'd lead it aft to a cleat I could reach while sailing because luff tension is a dynamic adjustment for the lug rig as conditions change.

You can see that I leathered the area around the boom/downhaul, which really protects the mast.  I did the same where the yard hits the mast at full hoist.  I have less problems w/ the boom flopping about and more with the yard, particularly if I'm striking sail while out on the water in a breeze.  I'm experimenting with a "leash" on the yard, around the mast.  I tried parrel beads but they just got in the way.  

RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

   OK thanks everybody!  I have made some modifcations and have yet to try them out.  I have a 3:1 downhaul or "vanghaul" with line leading back to cam cleat on middle seat.  I also put a block for the halyard, not to give any mechanical advantage, but so I can run halyard back to a similar cam cleat.  the additional friction of that block likely means I will still be going forward to raise the sail, but I mainly wanted to be able to lower sail from aft position, where I can better manage the decending spars. 
I am not in love with having lines crossing forward space, but I will keep my cleats on the mast so that I can rig to those instead and keep the space clear.  I can still use the 3:1 for vanghaul, although I will lose ability to fine tune depending on wind angle.  the cleats on the mast also make raising and lowering sail slightly annoying as the bleater catches on the cleat as she goes up.  So I have put a bit of hardware at forward attachmnet point on the spar, so I can remove it when needed on initial rigging.

Please ignore the excess line etc, as this is still a work in progress and I plan to sail it for a bit before I make everything all ship shape.

here is link:

RE: lug downhaul on Peapod

   Ok, I tried my prior rig, and ended up really not liking the taut lines from the mast.  Got in the way of trying to go foreward for any reason.   I modified it yet again, and went with double block on boom and Harken fiddle block V jam becket on bottom.  4:1 mechanical advantage, which is plenty.  cleats easily, and I can even tighten line from helm position if I want, by running slack line to helm position.  To loosen it I likely will have to go foreward.  At least it is small and makes setting downhaul tension super easy.  I plan to remove cleat on port side of mast as it always snags when raising or lowering sail.

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